Wilton Awarded a $500,000 State Grant for the Police HQ Project.
We are thrilled to share today Governor Lamont announced a $500,000 state grant award for the construction of the Wilton Police Emergency Response Garage and Carport. This facility was part of the Police Headquarters Project presented at the May 2022 Annual Town Meeting. Look for more details in an upcoming press release from the town.
The award reflects our continued efforts to maximize grants as a means of reducing the property tax burden for infrastructure needs and improvements. We have applied for and have been awarded more than $30 million in grant over the last four years, exclusive of ARPA monies.
CT DOT Repainting of Lines on Danbury Road.
As you may have noticed, CT DOT’s contractor is milling to remove the lines painted on the recently paved areas of Danbury Road. They are repainting with an epoxy paint and expect to be finished next week, weather permitting.
Wilton Center Master Plan Proposal: the Facts.
Last week, the subcommittee and our consultants presented summaries of the proposed plan and regulations to the Planning & Zoning commission. I attended and highly recommend residents watch the concise and easy to understand presentations by the consultants.
The video of the meeting will run on Channel 79 at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. from October 1st through October 19thand is available online here. Consultant presentations are as follows: Overview of the Plan begins at approximately 24 minutes. Details on Wilton Center at 37 minutes. Details on the surrounding Danbury Road and the Wilton Center train station area at 108 minutes.
- The maximum height allowed in Wilton Center under the proposed regulations is not as some have thought/stated. The regulations will create a varied street wall with a maximum height to the eve of 39 feet. As a comparison, the maximum allowable height of a single-family house is 35 feet. Any 4th story would need to setback from this at least 10 feet if a flat roof or incorporated into the structure if a sloped roof. Under certain circumstances, up to 25% of the area of the fourth story may be allowed for additional building height for a beneficial architectural feature as determined by the Commission. Building will be required to be located within a varied Built-To-Zone, which places the buildings at the front of the lot, encouraging an active street front. Required 8 or 10 ft wide sidewalks further encourage an active street front.
- The regulations do not replace the existing regulations. Instead they seek to incentivize good design and civic spaces by providing an alternate for property owners/developers wanting to opt-in and willing to comply with the requirements of opting-in.
- The regulations include design standards for the required civic spaces, a percent of which must be active spaces, land scaping and buffering and architecture.
- The regulations encourage the construction of a Riverwalk. The Norwalk River runs behind many of the privately owned commercial properties before reaching the town-owned property at Schenck’s Island/River Road, where the river is visible and walkable on both sides.
Mark your calendar for the October 19th public hearing on the proposed regulations.
Contract Award for Police Headquarters Construction. Following a thorough vetting of the contractor, last week the Board of Selectmen awarded the PDHQ construction contract to Secondino and Sons, Inc of Branford, CT.
The town received seven bids. Bids were required to include a base bid for the project and the cost of six alternates, which could be deducted at the town’s discretion. The largest deduction was the emergency response vehicle garage and carport, for which we were just awarded a grant as above. Key take-a-ways:
- The lowest bid was disqualified.
- Secondino’s was then the lowest bid
- The Board approved the bid with five of the six deductions at a cost of $15.2 million or $819,000 more than the budget for the construction contract.
- The $819,000 short fall was funded with $611,000 of ARPA grant monies and $208,000 of FY2023 Board of Selectmen operating expense savings.
- $759,000 remains in the budget as a construction contingency to be used for any unexpected expenditures. The contingency is not to be used to increase the scope of the project or as a “slush fund”. Any required change order will be approved by the Board, consistent with our practice for all town expenditures. Emergency change orders will also be approved in a manner approved by the Board. Any monies remaining in the contingency budget after construction is complete are budgeted monies unspent and reduce the approved borrowing for the project.
Speed Hump (Bump) Policy.
With more traffic on local roads and drivers traveling at higher speeds, residents are increasingly inquiring about the town’s policy for speed humps (bumps). The Wilton Police Commission, as the town’s Traffic Authority, adopted a policy which is available here. The policy details the criteria for petitioning consideration for a hump (60% of the property owners on the road must sign the petition), process for performing the evaluation of the location and the evaluation criteria. Criteria includes, among others, traffic volume, road width, topography and whether or not the road is a generally a straight line.
The Wilton Police Department has increased traffic enforcement resulting in 3,599 YTD traffic stops or an increase 13.4% increase versus last year. Car crashes are down 14% during the same time period. See data beginning on the third slide of a presentation prepared by Deputy Chief Cipolla here.
Increase in Vehicle Thefts and Thefts From Vehicles.
Deputy Chief of Police Rob Cipolla attended our September 19th Board of Selectmen meeting to discuss the topic. You can watch DC Cipolla on this video beginning at 52:46 to 1:15:32.
One week later, this past Tuesday, thefts returned to Wilton and victimized 6 more residents. The YTD statistics presented have been updated to reflect that additional activity:
- YTD activity up versus last year.
- 62 victims,
- 9 stolen vehicles-all unlocked
- 67% of incidents occurred at a residence.
- Incidents occurred throughout the community. See map here. Stolen vehicles are in red, thefts from vehicles in blue. Note, one stolen vehicle is shown in blue because it was stolen from inside a garage.
- Most thefts from vehicles were from unlocked vehicles. The remainder smash and grabs.
Police officers have interrupted some of these crimes. The typical result is the generally inexperienced driver travels at a high rate of speed knowing police officers in CT are prohibited from pursuing vehicles for property crimes. These young drivers create a dangerous situation for any resident that might be on the road at the time.
Police detectives are often able to recover the vehicles fairly quickly as there are known areas where they are dumped. The more time-consuming activity is the investigation to identify the thieves and the illegal use of credits cards taken from the vehicles.
With 125 miles of town-owned roads, 7+ miles of state-owned roads and 80+ private roads, some residents have questioned whether we should hire more patrol officers?
Adding one additional officer for three shifts per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year requires we hire 5 new officers at an average salary and benefit cost of almost $100,000 per officer, plus purchase 3 additional patrol vehicles.
Rather than increasing taxes by $600,000 per year to fund the costs associated with adding an additional patrol officer 24/7, the simpler and more effective response to this criminal activity is for all of us to be vigilant and lock our vehicles and remove our valuables.
WPCA Analysis of Sewer Capacity and Flows.
In light of the accelerated interest in development, over the last several months the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), of which I am chair, has focused attention on current sanitary sewer flows, possible increased demand for flow and the flow capacity allowed under our agreement with Norwalk. At our September meeting, we received the results of a commissioned inflow and infiltration flow study, which identified excess water in the sanitary sewer system due to misdirected rainfall and damage/wear and tear to the sewer infrastructure. Identifying and correcting these issues is important as this water, which should not be in the sewer, reduces the available sewer capacity for existing users or any new user(s).
These discussions will continue at our next meeting on October 11th.